READ: Acts 16
REREAD: Verses 25-34 from The Message. Read these verses aloud slowly, keeping in mind that just before this Paul and Silas (after doing good) are stripped by a crowd, beaten black-and-blue by officials, and put in jail:
Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose. Startled from sleep, the jailer saw all the doors swinging loose on their hinges. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he pulled out his sword and was about to do himself in, figuring he was as good as dead anyway, when Paul stopped him: “Don’t do that! We’re all still here! Nobody’s run away!” The jailer got a torch and ran inside. Badly shaken, he collapsed in front of Paul and Silas. He led them out of the jail and asked, “Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?” They said, “Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you’ll live as you were meant to live—and everyone in your house included!” They went on to spell out in detail the story of the Master—the entire family got in on this part. They never did get to bed that night. The jailer made them feel at home, dressed their wounds, and then—he couldn’t wait till morning!—was baptized, he and everyone in his family. There in his home, he had food set out for a festive meal. It was a night to remember: He and his entire family had put their trust in God; everyone in the house was in on the celebration.
THINK: Notice that The Message translates the word “saved” in these ways: “to really live” (verse 30) and “live as you were meant to live” (verse 31). The Greek word for “salvation” has to do with deliverance for the future but also living a new kind of life in the here and now.
– Why do you think the jailer is so dramatically affected by Paul’s and Silas’s behavior?
– Why would the jailer have an idea of what it meant to “put [his] entire trust in the Master Jesus”?
– Picture these scenes:
· the jailer making his prisoners feel at home with his family
· the jailer dressing the wounds his coworkers had inflicted
· Paul and Silas baptizing the family
· The group eating a festive meal together, not knowing what would happen to Paul and Silas the next day
PRAY: Talk to God about what touches you most in this passage. What does that tell you about what you need from God? Ask God for that.
LIVE: Ponder the next 24 hours that you have ahead of you. In what area might you have the chance to rejoice even though circumstances might not be happy? Is there someone you can show love to who isn’t expecting it? Watch for unexpected events and celebrate them.
Adapted from Eugene Peterson in Solo